Meet 2011 Golden Heart Finalist Bria Quinlan

Over the course of the summer, the Ruby-Slippered Sisters are giving the 2011 Golden Heart finalists an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a bit about their writing life. Today’s guest is Bria Quinlan, a finalist in the Young Adult category for SECRET LIFE. Please join us in congratulating her and welcoming her to the blog!

Through all the talk (and mocking) over the last month about the Rapture that was supposed to happen on May 21st, part of me felt horrible.

Here were people willing to give up everything because they believed something so strongly. They were willing to get out there and tell person after person because they knew it was true. They knew they were the ones who had to make those around them believe.

There’s something amazing about that. Something just absolutely awe-inspiring about believing something that strongly –especially in the face of so much doubt.

I’d been thinking about beliefs since the beginning of the Arab Spring – thinking about America and myself and my life and my beliefs…

And my writing.

Do I believe?

Do I believe in my writing so strongly that I will stand up in public and say: I write Rom Coms for teens. I write books about love and pain and heartbreak and redemption. I think these books were worth writing. I think these books are worth reading. You should read this.

You should read this.

How many of us can stand up, with our own words in hand, and say, You should read this?

The first believer you have to win over is yourself.

Belief is what pushes you through the tough I-don’t-wannawrite days. It makes you send that puppy out for criticism – I mean, critique. It takes the sting out of rejections… rejections that you can read thankfully because it’s a non-believer letting you pass. It’s what gets you to revise and rewrite for your agent… and then your editor.

Belief pushes you. Belief makes you go big, grow your story, take risks and bring to life things that only exist in your head… Until you stand up, on your own version of a street corner, and tell others to believe.

Tell others to read this.

Belief will carry you through heartbreak and doubt. And there will be heartbreak and doubt.

When belief wanes, take a break from your sidewalk and nourish your belief with friendship, chocolate, and its sister, hope.

On May 22nd, Harold Camping, the man who led the rapture followers, was shocked the world hadn’t ended… or maybe the rapture had happened and no one was worth saving… or maybe the real date was that October day he’d mentioned earlier.

Any way you look at it, he still believed.

I still feel horrible for him and his followers. Those people who believe so strongly even in the face of 99% proof that the world is ending (hey, October is still to come.)

But, a small part of me is still awed by their belief.

Family, friends, strangers, media, the world, the calendar are all telling them they’re wrong. But, no. They believe. They continue to believe. And they continue to tell people about it.

Here, read this.

Bria Quinlan writes Romantic Comedies for teens that take hard topics and make you laugh through your tears. Bria blogs at You can contact her at briaquinlan(at)aol(dot)com OR twitter @briaquinlan

67 responses to “Meet 2011 Golden Heart Finalist Bria Quinlan”

  1. Julie says:


    GREAT blog post!

    Belief is a powerful thing. If my husband told me once, he’s told me a thousand times over the past six years – if I don’t believe in my own work, who else will?

    Thank you for the reminder that belief will get us where we want to go!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Julie~

      Sometimes there are days when holding onto our belief is the only thing we’ve got.

      I’ve always loved the self-delusion quote… it’s right up there with the whole, are we going to ask permission or just apologize later 😉

  2. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Bria–and congrats on your Golden Heart final!

    Very interesting post: I hadn’t thought about the whole Rapture thing in terms of sheer belief (though hopefully we all have more rational reasons to believe in our own writing!) I guess it really is true, though, that we can tend to be ambivalent about sharing our romance writing with close friends and family, much less the world. (And here Camping had billboards splashed up and down highways….I had to watch the countdown to armaggedon on my commute.)

    Can you tell us a little about SECRET LIFE? I’m guessing from the title that it plays into the theme of what we show the world and what we don’t…. I’m eager to hear more!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Elisa~

      Secret Life is part of the Secret Series. They all revolve around the secrets teens keep and what happens when love shows up. We’ve had a bit of a time “genre’ing” them. They’re a little tougher than the typical Rom Com. I’ve been told they’re not pop culture’y enough for Chick Lit. And, because the entire point was for them to be funny, it’s hard to get away with calling them issue books…even though they’re all those things. I landed on, Hard Topic With Humor 🙂

      The book description is here: (instead of boring everyone and taking up HUGE space LOL)

  3. Hi, Bria! Great post.

    I was just talking to someone the other day about the power of belief. I told her how, last fall, not too long after shipping off my GH entry, I requested the week of Nationals off with the comment “I’ll need it because I’m going to final in the Golden Heart.” Well, look what happened. I finaled and I’m using that week of vacation for what it was intended. 😉

    That said, I do still struggle. I battle the fear of rejection — but I am getting better about letting people read my fiction. Writing for a newspaper like I do, I’ve never had trouble letting people read my articles. But my novels are something different — they’re more personal, closer to my heart.

    • Bria Quinlan says:


      I adore you asking off for your GH Final. That’s so awesome!

      You know what too, I don’t think we need to let EVERYONE read our stuff. And not everyone’s opinion is worth anything.

      Don’t let the Belief Steallers suck you dry!

  4. Lisa Kuehne says:

    Wow. Thanks for a great, inspiring pos, Bria!
    I think I look at “belief” a little different since I started writing.
    To me:
    One of the hardest parts is putting yourself out there and promising yourself you will still have a great self esteem no matter what someone else says.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Lisa~

      Yup, it sure is hard, isn’t it! I keep thinking it will get easier.


      *taps foot*

      *glances at watch* … wait, I don’t wear a watch. I heard they’re in the top 5 things to become obsolete.

      Anyway – if you find the magic bullet, let me know!

  5. From a former YA GH finalist to a current YA GH finalist, congratulations, Bria! I love YA romcoms. 🙂

    What an inspiring post. I, too, was amazed by Camping’s unshakable belief in the Rapture. I believe in my work and that I will be published some day, but there are days when I wonder if I’m delusional!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      HA Vanessa!

      Delusion is good for the soul… or something 🙂

      You know what? Delusion wrote my first book. Probably most of our first books. It’s a great tool we look down on too often 😉

      That sounded better in my head.

  6. Bria, Congrats on your final. What a wonderful post! As artists, it is easy to have our belief in our work shaken because of comments from the world. But, if we know in our hearts what we’re writing is entertaining and never ever give up our audience will find us.

    Kudos to your hubby for standing by you.

  7. Gerb says:

    Excellent, inspirational post, Bria. So very true.

    Congrats on your final!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks so much Gerb! I still remember once in awhile thru the haze of revisions and blue screen of death and omgosh-I-need-a-dress and get excited all over again 🙂

  8. Chris Campillo says:

    I also agree that you have to respect someone who is willing to face ridicule (or the lion’s den) for something they truly believe in.

    Great analogy. It’s just like you said, we’re the ones that are normally pointing at ourselves and saying, “You’re crazy.” You know what I say, “Believe you will succeed. Self-delusion is more productive than self-doubt.”

  9. Kat Cantrell says:

    Hi Bria!

    WOW did I need to hear this today! You’ve got the gift of inspiration (and I totally miss it :)) I know how long and hard you’ve worked on the Secret books and I’m so thrilled by what you’ve accomplished – goes to show how critical that belief in yourself really is. Thanks for generously sharing what you’ve learned with the rest of us.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Awww thanks Kat 🙂


      I needed a little inspiration myself this week. The truth is, this blog only survived because I’d emailed it to a different computer about an hour before the BSoD – so lucky break on the blog deal for me!!!

      Keep plugging Kat – I know you’re almost there!

  10. Jeannie Lin says:

    BRIA!!! *Slow motion Hollywood run with arms outstretched*

    Secret Life is AWESOME!! I had the pleasure of beta reading it, but can proudly say I had nothing to do with Bria’s GH final since I had hardly any feedback for revision. It was SO good I didn’t want to change a thing. It’s a subtle, funny-sad, and very real story about real teenagers without any super powers at all. Wow, what would teens do without paranormal buddies? Actually face their problems, that’s what!

    Big ol’ hugs. I think we should all put up that X-files poster that Mulder has in his office: “I want to believe”

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      You say the sweetest things….and any time you reference my dear boy Fox (we’re on first names, unlike everyone else in the world) I love you more.

      Thanks so much for YOUR encouragement!

  11. Kwana says:

    I love this post Bria and how you married these two subjects. You are so right on belief and writers we have to have it in our selves. Thanks for this. Just what I needed to read this morning.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Kwana~ I love when I get to be someone’s great timing because so often other writers are mine – right there, right when you need to hear something 🙂

      You’ve been that for me over in twitterlandia

  12. Terri Osburn says:

    Very good blog, Bria. I find I can push writing and books written by others. My favorite authors, my friends. But I’m not so confident pushing my own. But I’m getting there. I love the idea of holding my own work and confidently telling people they should read it.

    That’s a nice goal to add to my writerly list. Thanks!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Hi Terri~

      I very clearly remember when I started telling people I was a writer… I started with strangers in places I’d only have to talk to them for about 3 minutes.

      It’s great practice!

  13. Aislinn says:

    Like a lot of writers–all of us?–I struggle with believing in myself. I was wrestling with this issue, oh, about the third week in March. In reality I was steeling myself, because I knew I’d be waiting by the phone on the 25th, hoping it would ring, of course. But what if it didn’t? I had to be prepared, and my method of preparing was to tell myself it wouldn’t happen.

    If you’re prepared for the worst, you can’t be disappointed, right?

    But a writing friend told me to try something. She told me to put it out to the universe that I wanted to final, because my attitude otherwise was me telling the universe I didn’t have it in me.

    So I did that. For the next week or so, whenever the thought of the upcoming GH calls crossed my mind, I thought really hard that I WANTED this. I also put in a thought for several of my friends who entered.

    Just to say the process isn’t infallible here. It worked for me and one other friend.

    Still, now I’m thinking really hard, “I want to sell.” Can’t hurt.

    Great post, Bria!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      That’s great Aislinn!

      *glances at Universe-asking-list*

      I might have to pare this down a bit.

    • Hope Ramsay says:


      This is the what Norman Vincent Peale used to call the Power of Positive Thinking. New Age folks call it positive affirmations. I think it’s the most powerful thing in the world. Like the little Engine who thought he could, or the aunt in that song, High Hopes, who moved a rubber tree plant all by his lonesome.

  14. Inspiring post, Bria! Confidence and courage are often tough nuts for writerly types. I think part of the issue is this biz has no road map, no hard and fast rules that if we follow, we’ll sell our stories. So I guess we’re even more like Harold Camping…journeying along on a wing and a prayer. 🙂 Hugs and happy writing to all.

  15. Kimberly MacCarron says:

    Wonderful and interesting post, Bria. I was amazed at Campings followers and their complete confidence in their message. But sometimes you can have the right message at the wrong time, too. I see that so much in this business.
    Great story, but nowhere it fits right now. Can’t figure out where it would go on the shelf. Love it, but…
    So, I think we all need to keep plugging away and writing what we want to write, what we love to write because there will be a right time if we believe and continue to improve our craft. At some point, someone will say it’s the right time, and then we’ll have a ton of books to dump! LOL.
    I have to say I hope Camping’s message doesn’t come to pass. I really like the life I have now. 🙂

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Good for you Kimberly!

      I try, no matter how bad things might be looking, to embrace it all… sometimes life is just a more prickly hug than usual 😉

  16. Jenn! says:

    Interesting analogy, Bria.

    The bottom line is, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? We HAVE to believe in ourselves. Sure, we’ll have doubts. Everyone who has ever done anything worthwhile has doubts. But belief is so very powerful.

    Congratulations on your Golden Heart final. Soak up the fun and excitement. 🙂


    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Exactly! There are friends who you eventually want to say, “Ok, if you’re giving up on your dream, so am I.”

      We can only let other’s belief in us carry us so far — we have to carry ourselves the rest of the way.

  17. Diana Layne says:

    Hi, Bria, welcome to the Rubies and congratulations! For some reason your post brought to mind this song originally done by The Lovin’ Spoonfuls, but I see it’s been redone pretty cool by Aly and AJ:

    (here’s the Lovin’ Spoonfuls version for those younger than me, actually I was only a toddler lol:

  18. BRIA!!!!

    Super congrats, girl! I am so excited for you. I have to admit, your post has me seeing another side of end timers. While I just always thought them a little nutty, you’re right. They do have an unshakable belief and are willing to face ridicule and even humiliation for it.

    Very inspiring.
    Big hugs and YAY FOR YOU!!!

  19. Suzanne says:

    Hi Bria, very inspiring post–and, for me, timely. This weekend I was out and about and someone made a typical comment about romance–basically, that it’s trash. You know the perception; that “sex stuff.” I was quiet in the moment, so as not to cause a scene in our group, but I did pull that person aside later to say that as I write and read romance, I find it incredibly offensive to hear such an assessment from someone who has never read the genre. This person reads military thrillers–and I just can’t see how those are a more literary or valuable read. I guess my point is that hearing those comments does impact me–impacts my ability to say, Read this, about my romantic YA. Makes me more cautious–and that’s too bad. So I will consider your thoughts along with the experience I had this weekend–and my reaction–and try to focus more on believing in what I write. Being able to say, next time, Read this–maybe it’ll change your opinion about the genre.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Oh Suzanne! I understand completely. I’d never picked up a romance novel till about 4 years ago. I WAS that person (read: snobby English major) for so long.

      Then I was a closet reader….then a closet writer!

      Now, sorry, but I’d rather bring some smiles to the world than an overwhelming desire to first ask for my money back then drink myself to death (disclaimer: my book club book this past weekend shall not be discussed here)

  20. Wow, amazing post, Bria! Great advice. I had no idea how you were going to parallel writers and the Rapturers, but what a perfect connection. I’m going to tell my friends to “read this” post. =)

  21. Rita Henuber says:

    Congrats on your GH final and welcome to the GH family

  22. I would like to propose “READ THIS” t-shirts 🙂 Just sayin’! Because really, what better stamp of approval is there from one writer to another (or to the world)?

    Awesome post, Bria. And on a day when I could use a nudge in the believing department, this will go a long way.

  23. Alexia Reed says:

    I think that there’s two sides of belief and when a lot of the world focused on the negative part of it when the Rapture didn’t happen or whatever, you’ve done a great spin on the positive and I LOVE that. You’ve always been very inspiring so that shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you’ve brought it to a writer level as well. There comes to a point where every writer has to figure out if they believe enough in their own capabilities to push the limits with it and do whatever it takes.

    Great post.

    And, Bria’s Secret Life is awesome. She tackles the tough subjects like no one else can and doses it with humor and it only makes me respect her more for it.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Awwww Lexie – thanks so much for the kind words about Secret Life (and me!!!!) It’s nice to hear it come from someone who gets to see Grumpy Bria at her best (worst?) too!

  24. Diane Kelly says:

    I believe there are no rejection letters in Heaven, and everyone gets a six-figure advance and makes the NYT bestseller list.

    Thanks for the great post, Bria!

  25. Hope Ramsay says:


    This was a wonderful post. I can’t wait to see your book in print.

    If I hadn’t believed in myself, I would never have found a publisher. It took me decades between the time I finished my first novel to the time I sold one.

    Learning to listen for the positive, and to see the positive in everything, has not always been easy for me. But it’s something I practice every day. And there is no question that thinking positively about my writing — even in the face of rejection or criticism or a five-page revision letter — has made me a better writer and led to success.

    Congrats on the GH final. I am certain you are going to sell a lot of books, just on Jeannie Lin’s recommendation.

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Hope – what a lovely comment. Your name obviously matches your postive outlook!!!

      And, yeah, that Jeannie she’s pretty darn awesome. I’ll let her toot my horn (ok, that sounded weirder than I meant it)

  26. Congrats on your GH final, Bria! From what other commenters have posted, sounds like “Secret Life” is definitely a “read this!” manuscript. 🙂

  27. Kathy Altman says:

    Very inspiring and thought-provoking post, Bria! Like Darynda, your words helped me see the positive and redeeming side of something I definitely found mock-worthy. Thank you for so deftly offering a different perspective!

    Let me add my congratulations to you for your GH final! I don’t have much YA in my “library”, but you and Amanda Brice are putting a stop to that. 🙂

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Thanks Kathy~

      I think Amanda and I need to chat next time we’re together about having a joint slogan:

      Changing Bookshelves One (new YA) Reader at a Time!

  28. It’s certainly an interesting discussion you’ve prompted here, Bria.

    To take the metaphor further, would I, as members of the Arab Spring freedom uprisings have done, be willing to die so that others could read my work?

    No. Frankly, my work isn’t that important to the future of humanity, and I don’t want it to be. There are books for which people have been willing to die, religious texts among them, but the sort of thing I’m writing isn’t worth dying for.

    Or should I, as some members of the Cramping Rapture movement have, empty my savings account and sell my home to prepare for my impending rapturous success in the publishing industry?

    Some people DO finance their dreams in this fashion, and their self-belief propels them to great heights, despite all naysayers who urged them to be more rational.

    Still, I think Camping is either mentally ill and needs help, or a charlatan who deserves no admiration for stripping thousands of people of their savings, and encouraging them to quit their jobs, sell their homes, and invest nothing in their children’s futures.

    I don’t think that all religious people are mentally ill. But rather, when someone believes that the world is soon going to end and we’re all going to die, without any rational evidence to support that belief, I think there’s a reason to call a mental health professional.

    I shudder to think of how his “Rapture” could still unfold. Might he simply call for mass suicide the next time around, as so many other cult leaders have done? Will any of us cheer their belief then?

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Um… Well, I’m hoping no one commits suicide over something I’ve written…or starts a war…or gives all their stuff away irresponsibly…. or spends their money in a way that leaves them unable to care for themselves or their dependants…..

  29. Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

    You know what I was thinking when all this rapture nonsense was going on? I was thinking I had too much writing to do for the world to end.

    Congrats on the final, Bria!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      LOL Kelly – I actually did think, “Well, thank goodness I’d sent Book 1 revisions in, now I need to pound through Book 2…”

      We often set deadlines/milestones by things that are completely unrelated to us!

  30. Jenn Stark says:

    Bria, thank you for this post!

    It’s funny–there are so many different perspectives on writing, whether romance or YA or thrillers or horror–and yet the basic truth behind them is this. I’ve written a story that’s more than myself. I’ve written a story that may speak to you – to delight or entertain or inspire you. Read it, or not… but it is my gift to you.

    And that’s, in itself, a bit of the Rapture.

    Hugs and Happy Writing!

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      Wow Jenn~

      “My gift to you…” I ADORE that. I’d like to think we give to the world each day in our lives, but the idea that my writing might be a gift just waiting to be accepted is about mindblowing!

  31. What an inspiring post. I’m going to have to practice, “You should read this.” Thanks 🙂

  32. Renee Pace says:

    I was told I’d never amount to anything. Guess what they were wrong. Believing in yourself is a trust of faith and it’s own religion, because like all things the more you learn about yourself the more you question. Great blog.

    • Bria Quinlan says:


      There’s a gift in measuring the negative BUT accepting the positive that we (especially women) seem to flip the other way. Good for you!

  33. Shoshana Brown says:

    >> Belief will carry you through heartbreak and doubt.

    Yes. Some days I’m not quite sure why I believe in my writing. And then I read that scene or paragraph or line that’s so perfect I can’t believe I wrote it and I remember. But you do need that (slightly irrational) belief to carry you through the bad days. 🙂

    • Bria Quinlan says:

      “Slightly irrational” – heck, some days my belief was probably more on par with “what the heck are you thinking”

      But, since I’m dying to read your book, I’m pretty sure there’s no irrational belief for you- slightly or otherwise 😉

  34. Bria Quinlan says:

    Thanks everyone who stopped by and thanks to the Ruby’s for having me!!!!


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